Wine Cuentista Newsletter – Edition 26 – February 2018

February: After a long, cool winter this is the last month of dormancy for the vines; sap is just starting to stir and circulate in the plant and vine growers across Spain will be finishing their winter pruning and selecting the buds they wish to produce fruit for 2017. The soil should be freshly ploughed, allowing aeration and deeper penetration for rainfall. Growers will be adding fertilisers and organic matter that will gradually break down, adding nutrients for the plants rapid growth in Spring. This is also the last time of the year to finish repairs on trellising systems and to make any major changes for the coming growing season; once it starts, it goes very quickly indeed!

Hello Wine Lovers! 2018 is well underway and last month we celebrated with two fully booked tastings, including an international blind tasting and an exploration of the wines of Portugal. This month we’ll be kicking off with another blind tasting, again with wines from all over the world. Then on the 22nd we’ll be looking at arguably the most well known red grape variety, Cabernet Sauvignon, and comparing examples from wine regions across the world. I don’t know which I’m looking forward to more as I adore blind tasting, but it’s always a great experience to taste a variety or style and track it around the world. Whichever you want to come to, do get in touch sooner rather than later as spots disappear quickly!

Events: Maestrazgo Wine Club:
8th February – ‘International Wine Tasting: Blind Tasting’ – 10 spots available – 30 euros/person
22nd February – ‘Cabernet Sauvignon Around the World – 10 spots available – 30 euros/person

Articles: I probably spend too much of my time reading online articles about wine. However, as a result I can find and select a choice few to share – here are my three favourites from last month!

1. ‘Negociants multiply in Burgundy’. With very little Burgundy being sold in Barcelona, and certainly not much en primeur, this may seem a little irrelevant to us. Yet it’s worth looking at the changing business models of the region, if only to see what happens when wines, and the land that makes them, becomes outrageously expensive. Most of the Burgundy I drink tends to be negociant wine, purely due to pricing and availability, yet there are some terrific examples out there. Jancis has a look at the subtly different approaches negociants take when setting up their business models, and the reasons behind them:

2. ‘How to train a wine judge’ by Jeni Port. I had my first experience judging wine competitions in November last year, and greatly enjoyed the experience. Having learnt to taste with the WSET was a huge advantage as it already focuses on objectively analysing wine, often under blind conditions, and coming to a conclusion of quality/variety/region/price/ageability with supporting arguments absolutely necessary. Australia is the country that celebrates wine competitions more than any other, with a famous ‘circuit’ that constantly tastes and analyses wines under competition conditions. I would love to be part of this one day but for now, I’ll make do with this short write-up by Jeni Port, concisely explaining how the system works and some tips on how to taste under these conditions.

3. ‘The lure (and economics) of en primeur’ by Richard Hemming MW. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of buying wine en primeur, yet I’ve not had the spare cash nor the storage space to consider it. The finances of it are increasingly less desirable yet the emotional tug is there. You’ve been to the tastings, met the wine-makers, taken studious notes and decided on your favourite wines. You’re buying the wines at a lower price, paying for storage and then VAT when they’re released to you. They arrive a year or two later, and you cast your mind back to the day you purchased them, check your notes and crack open a bottle.

Wine of the Month: I’m constantly on the look-out for wines of real quality and value; here is my favourite wine of the month:

Catena Alta Malbec 2014: Catena Zapata remains an important winery for me, both as a reminder of some of the first quality wine I ever drank, one of the best winery visits of my life, as well as just being a constant provider of excellent wine for the last few years! Their 2009 Catena Alta Malbec blew me away, long before I become interested in wine, and this is the best vintage I’ve tried since then.100% Malbec from 4 high-altitude vineyards and aged in French oak for 18 months, 14.5% ABV. A lovely deep ruby colour and full of smokey dark fruits, oak spice, dark chocolate and sappy, herbal notes. The texture of this wine is its greatest feature, however; dense, supple and remarkably fresh – a Malbec worth ageing for a few years! One of the better Malbec wines on the market and another hit from the excellent Catena Zapata. For a full review of the wine and winery, check out my write-up here.

Social Media
These newsletters only come out once a month and there is a limit on space for content. If you use Social Media and want to keep up with regular wine updates and occasional rambles, feel free to connect with me on any of the following platforms.

Facebook: Wine Cuentista
Twitter: @Wine_Cuentista
Instagram: wine_cuentista

That’s it for this months newsletter. I hope you enjoyed it and please, if you have any suggestions or things you would like to see get in touch! Either respond to me here or email to I can’t wait to see you all soon for more wine, food and good company. Happy New Year, everyone!

Fintan Kerr

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